Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Taste Of Blood: One On The Backburner.

I've mentioned before how I rarely touch on the average horror tropes.  Vampires, Zombies, Serial Killers, etc., in their traditional form, bore me by the time I read the first cliche passage.  When I do dabble there, it's with a completely different mindset.  A while back I posted about a story called, "The Anatomy of Addiction" (available here: ), which takes place in a zombie world, but the gist of what the story is really dealing with is addiction--one of my favorite subjects, actually. 

What does this have to do with anything?

Well, I have a few of what I call Backburner Stories--stories invested with much time yet incomplete, in need of something out of my grasp at the time they were originally taking form.  Yeah, allllllll writers have story pieces, ones they expect to get back to, usually after the muse has forgotten about them.  At some point we look at them with fresh eyes, our mindsets different, perhaps more in line with what the story needs now...and write a little more on them, or let them take over to completion.  Sometimes we succeed, even after years; other times they may be stripped, salvaged, and the best parts tossed into another story; sometimes they spend their life stuck in a weird literary limboland with that other novel by Harper Lee, or perhaps a bunch of short pieces by J.G.Ballard.  Whatever, hahaha...  One of the best examples of the middle possibility for me would be the title story for my short story collection, The Dark is Light Enough for Me (available via B&N, OmniLit, Kobo, and Amazon all over the world: ) (...and if you're reading this and haven't bought the book yet, shame on you! Come now, aren't you as bored with the average horror tropes as I am?  Don't you want something that can really crawl under your skin and cause the itch of dread to run rampant throughout your body?).  The sequence early in the story where our humble narrator, James, has his novel--his warped life story?--read aloud at a meeting of horror writers who could not know his words, well, what they read was in the original take on TDILEFM, which has other parts I may salvage and stick into other stories.  Hmmm...

Where are you going with this, John Claude?

In my usual roundabout way, I'm getting to the point about some of those Backburner Stories and how, amusingly or not, there's a few that actually deal with the average horror tropes, which might be why I haven't finished them.  Mind you, again, I don't approach the stories, those tropes, with the intent of writing anything that fits into Vampire or Zombie fiction.  More so, I like to see where I can take them.  I like to see if I can approach it in a way that's perhaps more original.

So, a couple years back, I had an idea for a big piece, a novella, maybe a novel.  A strange one entitled, Tenement Funster, after the Queen song, because a large part of the story foundation would take place in a bizarre apartment complex.  The point is, there would be a vampire or vampires, but not quite; some thing, some creature, that relates to a vampire, yet takes even more from its victims, if that's possible.  (Yeah, yeah, like my story, "Soul Leech," blogged about a while back, but...not; different.)  I barely thought about it for a long time, just a file amidst the many, then this week as I was looking to align writing projects, get my focus geared up and ready to attack (or so I tell myself; yes, I MUST!), I decided to read the little bit I had for Tenement Funster and quite liked it.  Cutting to the chase, here's the prologue, a taste of blood, because it's still not time for this one to be written--there's the current novel in need of a second draft, a short story or three in need of completion, another novel in need of research, and whatever else decides to pop into my wee warped mind BUT it's a fun sample of something I hope to work on sooner than later, or at least later, some day. 

So, rough draft stuff, but enjoy this taste...


     “I know what you’ve done.”

     The voice crackled like sap in a pit fire, twigs and branches being eaten by the flame.

     The man turned to face his accuser, the words ringing ‘round his neck as a recently rung noose, a trace of heat causing him to twitch while he rubbed his calloused fingers together. 

     “Who’s there?” he said, his voice gruff, as if gargling rocks.  “Who the fuck is there?”

     He spotted movement at the back of the alley; shadows shimmied and took shape.  The figure wore a cloak that seemed blacker than the night that surrounded it.

     “I know what you’ve done, friend…” 

     There was no joviality in the stating, no relation to friendship in its truest form.  The words slipped out as a leer or perhaps a challenge.

     At the mouth of the alley, the man leaned in precariously, peering into the shadows, trying to make out more of the shape that had seemed to materialize out of thin, stale air.  He could make out nothing of substance and found it hard-pressed to even make out the shape any more. 

     He pulled the Bowie knife out of the leather sheath holster tucked close to his stone heart, on the inside of his denim jacket. 

     Laughter filled the grimy confines of the alley. 

     The man bristled, fists solid as hammers, the knife handle melding with the left one. 

     “Who the fuck are you to mess with me?  If you actually know what I’ve done, you know you’re stepping on the toes of the man who’s gonna slice and dice your ass.”

     The man stepped into the alley.  Normally, he did this with solid intent, knowing what he wanted to do, what his plans were.  Knowing who was going to die.  Right now, because of the unusual quality of the darkness, the nub of wariness blossomed in his belly.   He belched, blaming it on indigestion inspired by two double patty burgers, a super-sized order of fries and onion rings, and two large Cokes at Wayne’s Burger Shack.

     “Gonna slice and dice your fuckin’ ass--”

     With liquid swiftness and deft knowledge, the man in the cloak took perch behind the man with the knife.  The man with the knife tried to turn, to face his accuser, but he was somehow immobilized.  Worse yet, something caressed his neck with scalpel sharpness; a handful of something…dancing along his taut, whiskered throat.

     “I am not a victim, friend.  I am here to put you in your place.”

     The man struggled against the unseen, the darkness, the cloak that smelled musky like a wild animal, woodsy like the rarely trodden forest, to no avail.

     “It’s no use to struggle, friend.  But struggle if you must, it makes the blood flow more freely.”

     The sharpened fingernails of the hands that caressed his neck were replaced by teeth, more so, fangs that dug deep into the jugular vein.  The man screamed, struggled more; again, to no avail.

     The slavering maw pulled from the serrated wound that gifted it with its feast and said, “Hell awaits whatever’s left of you, but I’ll take the blood and soul and piss off Satan and his cohorts, as I’m wont to always do.”

     The draining consciousness and blood was amplified by the pulling sensation, as if the cloaked man had unzipped his flesh and was prying out what was underneath.  The man thought soul, yes, soul…and screamed, a muffled, gurgling release that only caused the blood to spout more urgently, seeking its own escape.  The blood understood that death was near, this body’s death, and that hanging around would do it no good, especially with no soul to ride into the afterlife or whatever was next.  The cloaked man brought his lips back to the neck, feeding on the tangy fluid while also, somehow, mysteriously, feeding on that which distinguishes each of us from the other.

     The now dying man was correct: it was his soul swiftly vacating the liquefying flesh.

     The defeated man dropped the knife, knowing that he was deserving of whatever lay beyond, and anxious to get there, to finish with this miserable existence, this horrid death.

     Moments later, any indication of who he was melted into the concrete tongue of the alley, suckled and gone.  It was as if the man had never existed.

     The man in the cloak--refreshed, invigorated--spat at the ever-shrinking stain.

     “Toodles, friend,” he said, and laughed, walking briskly into the shadows where he always found the most comfort, and disappeared.   

Dear Lord, that needs work, he said, grimacing at some of it, while knowing it's a springboard for something, so...

And there's also a lot of fantastical elements mixed with the horror, including a talking frog


No, I'm not kidding.  See, as noted above, just have to get my brain wrapped around what the story, these characters, really want to do before I sit there and channel it all. 


The next blog will be up by or on the weekend (because this one may not be posted until Wednesday evening, if blogger still isn't letting me see the preview to make sure everything is as it needs to be) as I look to be more consistent again.  Poetry and Teasers and more on the way.
As for now, here's a photo of a 'vampire' frog.  Not that the frog in the story is a vampire, no, it's

Skip it!



  1. Wow, I really enjoy your writing style!

  2. Thank you, Ellen! There's a collection of short fiction out, listed within this post. Those would be different in some respects, but you might want to check it out. Untraditional horror, literary horror, that's what I specialize in; even magic realism and some branches off of all of those genres. ;-)
    Thanks again!
    John Claude